Hot, fresh coal-fired pizza is finally available for the taking at Massachusetts' first Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napolentana, opening today at The Shops at Chestnut Hill (formerly known as The Mall at Chestnut Hill). While the restaurant is in the back, a large sign on the front of the mall faces Route 9, beckoning. Head to the back parking lot, and you'll see several gold-trimmed windows that give passersby a peek of the action — dough is being shaped on a massive wooden bench before it gets topped and sent to the blazingly hot oven, via dramatically long pizza peels.
Upon entering the mall entrance, you'll first see Pepe's fenced-in "outdoor" patio, which is inside the mall but outside of the restaurant. The inside looks similar to the growing chain's other locations, with tall green booths and coat hooks situated between each booth. The walls are a crisp white and adorned with photos of Frank Pepe and the family throughout the years.
The kitchen action is visible through a huge, half-moon-shaped open window, and the most important feature of the restaurant — the coal oven — is framed perfectly in the center. It is designed just like all of the other Pepe's locations' ovens, to the exact specifications of the original oven, located in New Haven, CT. Employees sling pies in and out theatrically on custom-made pizza peels that span almost the full length of the kitchen. A few tables right by the kitchen allow a prime view.
Pepe's is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily (closing at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve and closed on Christmas Day) and features the white clam pie and Foxon Park sodas you know and love.